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Use of trazodone to facilitate postsurgical confinement in dogs

Margaret E. GruenDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27607.

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Simon C. RoeDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27607.

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Emily GriffithDepartment of Statistics, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695.

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Alexandra HamiltonDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27607.

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Barbara L. ShermanDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27607.

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Abstract

Objective—To investigate the safety and efficacy of oral administration of the serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor trazodone hydrochloride to facilitate confinement and calming after orthopedic surgery in dogs.

Design—Prospective open-label clinical trial.

Animals—36 client-owned dogs that underwent orthopedic surgery.

Procedures—Starting the day after surgery, dogs were administered trazodone (approx 3.5 mg/kg [1.6 mg/lb], PO, q 12 h) with tramadol (4 to 6 mg/kg [1.8 to 2.7 mg/lb], PO, q 8 to 12 h) for pain management. After 3 days, administration of tramadol was discontinued, and the trazodone dosage was increased (approx 7 mg/kg [3.2 mg/lb], PO, q 12 h) and maintained for at least 4 weeks. If needed, trazodone dosage was increased (7 to 10 mg/kg [3.2 to 4.5 mg/lb], PO, q 8 h). Owners completed electronic surveys rating their dogs’ confinement tolerance, calmness or hyperactivity level, and responses to specific provocative situations prior to surgery and 1, 2, 3, and 4 weeks after surgery and at the postsurgery evaluation (at 8 to 12 weeks).

Results—Most (32/36 [89%]) of owners reported that their dogs, when given trazodone during the 8 to 12 weeks following orthopedic surgery, improved moderately or extremely with regard to confinement tolerance and calmness. Trazodone was well tolerated, even in combination with NSAIDs, antimicrobials, and other medications; no dogs were withdrawn from the study because of adverse reactions. Owner-reported median onset of action of trazodone was 31 to 45 minutes, and median duration of action was ≥ 4 hours.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that oral administration of trazodone was safe and efficacious and may be used to facilitate confinement and enhance behavioral calmness of dogs during the critical recovery period following orthopedic surgery.

Abstract

Objective—To investigate the safety and efficacy of oral administration of the serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor trazodone hydrochloride to facilitate confinement and calming after orthopedic surgery in dogs.

Design—Prospective open-label clinical trial.

Animals—36 client-owned dogs that underwent orthopedic surgery.

Procedures—Starting the day after surgery, dogs were administered trazodone (approx 3.5 mg/kg [1.6 mg/lb], PO, q 12 h) with tramadol (4 to 6 mg/kg [1.8 to 2.7 mg/lb], PO, q 8 to 12 h) for pain management. After 3 days, administration of tramadol was discontinued, and the trazodone dosage was increased (approx 7 mg/kg [3.2 mg/lb], PO, q 12 h) and maintained for at least 4 weeks. If needed, trazodone dosage was increased (7 to 10 mg/kg [3.2 to 4.5 mg/lb], PO, q 8 h). Owners completed electronic surveys rating their dogs’ confinement tolerance, calmness or hyperactivity level, and responses to specific provocative situations prior to surgery and 1, 2, 3, and 4 weeks after surgery and at the postsurgery evaluation (at 8 to 12 weeks).

Results—Most (32/36 [89%]) of owners reported that their dogs, when given trazodone during the 8 to 12 weeks following orthopedic surgery, improved moderately or extremely with regard to confinement tolerance and calmness. Trazodone was well tolerated, even in combination with NSAIDs, antimicrobials, and other medications; no dogs were withdrawn from the study because of adverse reactions. Owner-reported median onset of action of trazodone was 31 to 45 minutes, and median duration of action was ≥ 4 hours.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that oral administration of trazodone was safe and efficacious and may be used to facilitate confinement and enhance behavioral calmness of dogs during the critical recovery period following orthopedic surgery.

Contributor Notes

Funded by a North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine 1st Award; Dr. Gruen receives support from the National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award T32OD011130.

The authors thank Lyndy Harden, Tonya Harris, Kim Williams, Beth Case, and Dr. Kimberly Chappell for technical assistance; Dawn Kaplan for case recruitment; and Dr. Venita DePuy for statistical support.

Address correspondence to Dr. Sherman (barbara_sherman@ncsu.edu).